Browsing articles in "Security"
Jan 20, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Technology, Protest & Entrenched Political Elites

Unless one somehow managed to avoid any interaction with the internet this week, the protests against SOPA and PIPA are likely no news at this point.   Stories on legislation aimed to prevent piracy have been a relative constant for weeks now, ranging from discussions of human rights to assessments of the people behind this recent push.  While the struggle against this type of legislation is far from over, the impact of yesterday’s protests seems hard not to recognize.  As several representatives hurried to withdraw their support, and the administration days ago made clear that there were problems in the proposed legislation it became increasingly clear that efforts against the measures were progressing in spite of generally lacking coverage through traditional news outlets.
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Jan 19, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

DC Event: The US-Turkey-Iran “Triangle” and the Arab Spring

The Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown is excited to host a panel discussion on how the United States, Turkey, and Iran played a role in the Arab Spring and how they may play in to future democratization attempts in the region.

The Triangle
United States-Turkey-Iran:
A new role in the Arab Spring

Friday, January 27, 2012
3:00 – 5:00 PM

Mortara Building
3600 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057

Conference panel featuring
Colin H. Kahl – Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University
Erol A. Cebeci – Executive Director, The SETA Foundation
Geneive Abdo – Fellow and Iran Analyst, The Century Foundation

Moderated by
Joshua W. Walker – Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund

RSVPs are requested to


Nov 15, 2011
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

The Cain Doctrine and Pakistan

If a question about Libya “got all this stuff twirling around” in Herman Cain’s head (watch it here), I would love to see what happens when he talks seriously about Pakistan.

That is one country that seems to get things twirling around everybody’s head. In the “Washington Post” today there was an illustrative story: on October 25th, American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan found themselves under fire near the border with Pakistan, and it seemed to be coming from around a Pakistani military check point. They thought it was probably a group or Pakistani soldiers providing “cover for insurgents maneuvering nearby”.

This is speculation, but it was the first thing that crossed their minds. The Post’s conclusion was nothing new: “The longer the Afghanistan war drags on, the more suspicion mounts that Pakistan’s security forces provide a wide range of support for the Taliban and its allies (…) and Afghan and American relations continue to deteriorate”.

How much of a relationship is left to deteriorate? This has been stated and written many, many times. And still Pakistan looks like an abusive husband who the US cannot divorce.

In trying to address the question of “what to do with Pakistan”, the latest “Atlantic” argues that the at root of the problem is Islamabad’s belief that the US wants to control Pakistan’s nuclear material. They are probably right. But in their efforts to protect themselves and hide the nukes from the US, “Pakistan makes its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists”. Of course, that creates a vicious cycle: the more concerned Washington is with insurgents in Pakistan, the more worried it will be about the nukes, and the more Pakistan will have to work to keep the Americans at bay.

Basically that is why the divorce is impossible: “In the words of one expert, [Pakistan] is too nuclear to fail”, says the magazine.

Herman Cain didn’t go into any of that when asked about Pakistan. Just after explaining what is being referred to the “Cain Doctrine” _ “Clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are and stop giving money to our enemies” _ he said that “we don’t know” whether Pakistan is a friend or a foe to the United States. So his plan is to get that straightened out.

Not that his contenders seemed to know that much better. But hey, maybe Cain can waterboard some people to clarify it.

Nov 10, 2011
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

When Voices Filled the Streets: A New Era for Democracy Promotion

“We begin by rejecting the false choice between progress and stability.” – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
On November 9, at the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Awards Dinner, Secretary Clinton stated emphatically that democracies “channel people’s energies away from extremism and toward political and civic engagement.” Service members, democracy activists, civic educators, and public servants in war zones, parks, classrooms, and parliaments around the world should cheer the Secretary’s recognition.
The speech is a watershed moment for the Clinton State Department and the Obama Administration. In an acutely practical way, she articulated the most fundamental question of how to balance order and chaos in political transitions and in governance. She recognized that while “toppling tyrants does not guarantee that democracy will follow,” when it does, “democracies make for stronger and stabler partners.” Clinton noted the practical nuances of citizenship that many educators and activists have embraced for decades – namely that polities with knowledge, skills, and dispositions of democratic citizenship can and must ensure a more peaceful, just, and secure world. Yet she argued beyond established policies, and for this reason, the world should take note.
Through Clinton, the United State government declared in no uncertain terms that it is in America’s self-interest to recognize the universal right of individuals to be free: “opening political systems, societies, and economies is not simply a matter of idealism. It is a strategic necessity.” She recognized the uncomfortable truth that US foreign policy is different in every country and that the promotion of popular sovereignty, freedom, and human rights abroad will forever be intertwined with other strategic interests. While she did not enumerate these specific interests, one might make a convincing case that US policy has been softer on fundamental freedoms in states like Saudi Arabia, where the US has economic interests, and in Uzbekistan and Djibouti, where the US maintains military bases deemed critical to the ongoing wars on terror. Clinton addressed this critical paradox of our time, a paradox that unfortunately has given a platform to radical Islamists and lent credence to those who might argue that democracy promotion is merely a cloak for darker American interests.
The new frontier covered in her remarks, ground that US foreign policy is now beholden to defend, is the recognition that the promotion of democracy and fundamental freedoms is a strategic interest and will be treated as such. Her own words in relation to the Middle East region must now be reflected in our own foreign policy: “The truth is that the greatest single source of instability in today’s Middle East is not the demand for change. It is the refusal to change.” While her examples included regional governments, Syria and Yemen in particular, transforming US policy to support the demands for greater freedoms in the Middle East is also integral to actualizing demands for change. The creation of an Office of Middle East Transitions at the Department of State in September 2011 is a belated but critical start.
In her remarks, Clinton attempted to answer four critical questions: “Do we really believe that democratic change in the Middle East and North Africa is in America’s interest?”“Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others?” “What is America’s role in the Arab Spring?” and, “What about the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians?” In answering those questions, she shone a much needed spotlight on the idiosyncrasies of foreign policy while arguing that the realities of economic prosperity and security at home can reinforce democracy promotion abroad. Her assertions, while complex, are in good company. Neville Isdell, former chairman/CEO of Coca-Cola, has embraced the métier that global corporations must now embrace social responsibility rather than “philanthropy” to regain public trust and justify their existence. Corporations, he claims, do not gain legitimacy through altruism but instead gain the right to operate through a social contract with the communities in which they work. Clinton and Isdell, in both words and in action, have begun to apply Montesquieu’s concept of individual “enlightened self interest” to government and the corporate sector.
Secretary Clinton is to be commended for recognizing that we cannot stand on the sidelines of what is right simply because we think it easy; further, in doing so, we act against our own self interests and our country’s best interests. It is incumbent on the US government to answer the hard questions and to match the rhetoric to the reality; this speech is a significant and realistic step forward and should be treated as such.
“…there are going to be a lot of bumps along this road. But far better that we travel this path, that we do what we can to make sure that our ideals and values, our belief and experience with democracy, are shared widely and well. It’s an exciting time. It’s an uncertain time. But it’s a good time for the United States of America to be standing for freedom and democracy.” – Secretary Clinton

Nov 1, 2011
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

There’s a reason they call it a conflict

The take away point, I suspect, is that neither party to this conflict really wants peace. Actually, I think they might want a war. It’s not entirely clear to me why they would want a war, it’s just the conclusion I reach when I see both sides to a dispute react to provocation with more provocation.

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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